Los Angeles is a wonderful coastal city nestled between a mountain range and a hilly peninsula. There are canyons, valleys, deserts, rivers, lakes and beaches, plus some very interesting urban infrastructure, making it a very diverse locale for outdoor activities.
Most of the Los Angeles outdoor activities in this article are great for family members of all ages. However, there are many water-based activities listed here, so use your best judgement when it comes to taking part in them. So, if you can’t swim, stay on the shore or at least wear a life jacket.
Most importantly, once you cover all necessary safety measures, remember to have fun!
- These activities are fun for people of all ages.
- All of the activities take place entirely outside.
- The activities take place both in and out of the big city.
Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the USA, covering 4,511 acres.
Griffith Park’s tree-studded canyons are crisscrossed with more than 70 miles of
hiking and equestrian trails that offer excellent views of Los Angeles. Be sure to check out the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theatre and the Hollywood Sign. Also, the next LA outdoor space we recommend is in Griffith Park, the LA Zoo. Check out the visual Griffith Park map here.
What kid doesn’t want to spend a day at the zoo? The LA Zoo is one of the most impressive zoos in the United States. Like many other large zoos, the LA Zoo has a large variety of plants, animals, and other exhibits for visitors to enjoy. When the zoo is in full swing, there are also special events throughout the year (which can be included with the price of admission or come with an additional fee). Of course, the coolest things the zoo has to offer are the animals. Some of the most popular animals at the zoo include chimpanzees, hippos, leopards, wallabies, and more!
Themed LA Walking Tours
LA is famous for being where all the action is! If you want to see everything the city has to offer, then there’s no better way to see everything than to take a walking tour. Of course, since LA is the home to celebrities and all the theatrics that come with that, the tours are anything but ordinary. Different walking tour companies and groups provide a wide array of options for tourists to pick from. So, will you explore LA to see all the best movie spots or go another route? Check out Tripadvisors’ 10 best LA walking tours.
Outdoor Movie Theatre
Since LA is the place to be if you want anything to do with films, so, what better way to spend your time in LA than to watch a movie? Of course, you can do any old movie theatre no matter where you visit. What you can’t always do is visit an outdoor movie theatre like the ones that LA has to offer. There are many outdoor movie theatres in and around the LA area that you can choose from. Some show new releases while others show the classics, so there is sure to be something that everyone in the family can enjoy.
The Mission Tiki Drive-In Movie Theater is my favorite in LA.
LA is near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, meaning that it is one of the prime spots to visit if you’re a fan of water sports. One of the most popular Californian water sports is paddle-boarding. For those who don’t know, paddle-boarding is very similar to surfing but much calmer. Instead of riding on huge waves, paddle-boarders will float along with calm areas of water, all while using a long paddle to steer. This makes it a great sport for people who cannot surf, but still want to be out on the open water.
Eaton Canyon Waterfall and Hiking Tour
If your family loves spending time out in nature, but not necessarily love splashing around in the ocean, then you can enjoy a hike near Eaton Canyon. There are hiking trails all around this canyon with varying difficulty levels. Families who have older children or who are more experienced with hiking can try the harder trails, while families with young children or little hiking experience can try one of the easier trails. If you take the right path, you might even be lucky enough to see the Eaton Canyon Waterfall!
Check out this handy resource for a 1.75 hour Eaton Canyons hike with map and pictures.
LA County Arboretum & Botanical Garden
Similar to the LA Zoo, the LA County Arboretum & Botanical Garden has a wide variety of animals. More impressive than its animal collection is its plant collection. In fact, there are nine unique gardens here! The Arboretum also has children and family events every now and again that provide for both a fun afternoon and a great learning experience. Make sure to check out their website to see their activities and event schedule.
Go Kart Tracks
One thing that’s especially popular in the LA area is go-karting. This is a great activity for older kids (children who are old enough to follow instructions and have great hand-eye coordination skills) and even for adults! Depending on what go-karting track you visit, the company will have different rules as to hold old/tall children need to be to ride. As a bonus, at many tracks, there are other activities and games for families to play even if they don’t want to drive the go-karts.
My favorite Go-Kart track in LA is Go Kart World. It has four different tracks, even with different elevations. Yes, there is an outdoor track. Also, the karts are fast.
Griffith Observatory Star Party
If you love the nightlife or at least love the night sky, then your family should make a trip to the Griffith Observatory. While the Observatory is open year-round, and have a variety of activities on a daily basis, one of the coolest things it offers is its monthly Star Party. One Saturday of every month, the Observatory holds a party in which visitors can take a peek through their telescope to see the wonders of the night sky. It’s the perfect nighttime event for people of all ages!
There are dozens of piers to fish from in LA. However, anyone over age 16 will need a license to fish. You can get a license online. Be sure to Check out California’s Fish and Wildlife webpage for a pier fishing FAQ on other rules and regulations.
Catalina Island is just an hour away from LA. Ferry’s depart from ports in San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point.
Go to Catalina Island for the day or the weekend. Catalina Island is a fun place – there is shopping, thrilling adventures like zip lines and paddleboarding, and fine, ocean-side dining.
Also, there is glass-bottom boat tours, fishing tours, snorkelling tours, good waves for surfing, and a few tourist attractions like the Catalina Island Museum. What more could you ask for?
The Mouse House is mostly outdoor so it counts too. In the evening, check out Disneyland Park for these best outdoor attractions: Parades, Fireworks, Big Thunder Mountain and Jungle Cruise. The next morning, check out Disneyland’s other Park, California Adventure for these best outdoor attractions: Grizzly Bear Run and Radiator Springs.
If you are looking for more thrilling rides than what Disney has to offer, check out Magic Mountain, another LA theme park which is known for its roller coasters.
Last but not least, is some good old-fashioned California surfing. If you do not know how to surf, don’t worry! There are many surf instructors in the LA area that can give your or your family members a lesson any day of the week (also some can provide board rentals or sales). Once you have the basics down, take your board into the Pacific Ocean and shred those waves!
Download the Surfline app and add the local beaches, like Malibu, Santa Monica or Venice. Then. check the Surfline app for tide levels at different hours of the day, wind and swell. One Redditor said: “Different breaks are better at different times. Santa Monica is a good place to learn but you need to get there early before the wind picks up. Make sure to watch as many YouTube videos on etiquette and popping up.”
Which of these activities do you think you and your family members will try the next time you visit LA? Do you have any other ideas on what families can do outside in LA? If so, comment below!
Hi, I’m JD (Big Daddy). After I became a lawyer and ran a successful law practise for a while, I became interested in blogging, developing new technology for the law, playing in the outdoors and taking lots of vacations. I still spend time being a lawyer, but I’m trying to pursue my other passions, and I’d like to document all my fun in various blogs.